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September 2017 Chamber Connection Newsletter

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President's Message | September 2017

August began with an introduction to Hilo’s new professional basketball team: the Hawaii Hammerheads. The Chamber Executive Committee met with Hammerhead President and Coach Kevin Williams to greet and welcome the team to the Island.

The team opened its preseason with two victories in Hilo. The Hammerheads will be playing in the Oceania Basketball Association, and play will resume in November, continuing to March 2018.

Several Hawaii players have made the team, including recent Waiakea High School graduate and three time BIIF player of the year, Calvin Mattos. The team plans to be actively involved in community events – their play being an exciting local event in itself. For more information, visit www.hihammerheads.com

After careful consideration, the Board of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce submitted testimony to the legislature supporting continued use of the general excise tax premium for Oahu transactions for capital funding options for the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit system. This is the solution requested and favored by the City and County of Honolulu – ultimate beneficiaries of the rail system.

We have a significant concern about using a tax source (TAT) that taxes a group – largely tourists- whose only way to vote against the tax is to stay away from Hawaii and whose use of the system is likely to be very small. The system is designed with stops that will be used primarily by Oahu residents.

The Chamber does not take public positions on all legislation, but does so on issues that are likely to have a significant effect on small business in general and our membership in particular. When you see such issues coming up, feel free to contact the Chamber office to express your concerns so we may review your concerns and comment on them.

At the installation of officers in June I discussed the condition of Hawaii Island’s economy. We all recognize that we have significant under employment and unreported unemployment on the island. Even where we do have employment it comes often with family members commuting across the island daily for their jobs. As I pointed out then, the best we can do to ease this problem is to build our island businesses.

With this in mind leaders of several Hawaii Island business organizations met at the end of August to begin discussions to improve our island’s economy. We anticipate moving forward asking our members to take part in this effort in a number of ways. I am convinced that it is our responsibility as business leaders working in this community to expand the base of our economy – after all, we are those most intimately involved in creating goods and services on the island.

September 2017 Chamber Connection Newsletter